The Japanese Empire's History

Awakening the sleeping giant Illustration of Pearl Harbor attack © The history of Japanese expansionism highlights its basically ad hoc and opportunistic nature, as well as Japan's desire to create an autonomous region under Japanese leadership. Japan's annexation of territory throughout SE Asia in 1941-2 was the immediate cause of war in the Pacific during World War Two. However, it was Japan's insistence on retaining its Chinese territory - seen as crucial to its existence by moderates as well as by hardliners - and US insistence that Japan relinquish this territory, that created the real tensions between the two. The tripartite pact (between Japan, Germany and Italy) of September 1940 was also a major stumbling block to good relations between the US and Japan. ... there was prejudice and misconception, but the Japanese government was also misled by military factions ... On the US side, there was prejudice and misconception, but the Japanese government was also misled by military factions, who had learned the wrong lessons from their two short imperial wars with China and Russia. They believed that Allied weakness in south east Asia and American isolationist sentiment would mean another short war. This, however, was not to be. What the Japanese had done was to awaken the fury of America, and to set in train a war that would end in their total defeat.